'I can't breathe': George Floyd's death draws comparisons to Eric Garner case
NEW YORK (WABC) -- With the recent death of a black man who died during an arrest involving four Minneapolis police officers -- one of whom was kneeling on the handcuffed man's neck -- on Monday night, the incident immediately drew comparisons to the case of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in 2014 in New York after he was placed in a chokehold by police and pleaded for his life, saying he could not breathe.
Video of the confrontation between Garner, a black man, and the officers trying to arrest him for selling untaxed cigarettes drew outrage and was viewed millions of times online. Garner's dying words, "I can't breathe," became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The New York City officer in the Garner case, Daniel Pantaleo, who is white, said he was using a legal maneuver called "the seatbelt" to bring down Garner, whom police said had been resisting arrest. But the medical examiner referred to it as a chokehold in the autopsy report and said it contributed to his death. Chokehold maneuvers are banned under New York police policy.
A grand jury later decided against indicting the officers involved in Garner's death, sparking protests around the country. The New York Police Department ultimately fired the officer who restrained Garner, but it was five years later, after a federal investigation, a city prosecutor's investigation and an internal misconduct trial.
Related: Reaction swift on both sides after officer fired in Eric Garner's death
Daniel Pantaleo's lawyer, Stuart London, told the New York Post the lawsuit was filed and argued that his termination following an administrative trial was "arbitrary and capricious."
The Rev. Al Sharpton blasted the lawsuit, saying Pantaleo "had a fair administrative trial" that recommended his dismissal .
"Pantaleo's decision to seek his reinstatement is not only disrespectful to the Police Commissioner and NYPD, but also the Garner family," Sharpton said in a statement. "He has shown no contrition or acknowledgment of his violent actions that ultimately killed Eric Garner."
After Garner's death, the police department required all 36,000 officers to undergo three days of training, including classes focused on de-escalation. It also began training officers on fair and impartial policing, teaching them to recognize biases and rely on facts, not racial stereotypes.
In Minneapolis, kneeling on a suspect's neck is allowed under the department's use-of-force policy for officers who have received training in how to compress a neck without applying direct pressure to the airway. It is considered a "non-deadly force option," according to the department's policy handbook.
A chokehold is considered a deadly force option and involves someone obstructing the airway. According to the department's use-of-force policy, officers are to use only an amount of force necessary that would be objectively reasonable.
Before the officers were fired, the police union asked the public to wait for the investigation to take its course and not to "rush to judgment and immediately condemn our officers." Messages left with the union after the firings were not returned.
The Hennepin County Attorney's Office, which would handle any prosecution of police on state criminal charges, said in a statement that it was "shocked and saddened" by the video and pledged to handle the case fairly. The FBI is investigating whether the officers willfully deprived Floyd of his rights. If those federal civil rights charges are brought, they would be handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota, which declined comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.